Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker
Voices by Anika Noni Rose, Keith David, Bruno Campos, Terrance Howard, John Goodman
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
Leonardo Da Vinci
While I am more of a Pixar Animation or Aardman Animation fan, I have fond memories of seeing classic Disney films played on TV in my childhood, in particular The Lady and The Tramp (1955) and The Jungle Book (1967). So, this return by Disney to hand drawn animation had me interested. The Princess and the Frog was recently released on Blu Ray and I gave it a whirl.
Inspired by the Grimm Brothers fairy tale and E. D. Baker’s novel The Frog Princess, The Princess and Frog tells the story of Tiana (Anika Noni Rose) and aspiring restaurant owner in 1920’s New Orleans. Tiana works two jobs just to save up enough money to secure the ideal building for her restaurant.
Enter into the picture the arrogant Prince Naveen of Maldonia (Bruno Campos After being cut off by his parents, Naveen hatches the get-rich-quick scheme of marrying into a rich family. Tiana’s best friend and the rich sugar baron’s daughter, Charlotte LaBouff, is the perfect candidate for Prince Naveen.
What would a tale based in New Orleans be without a voodoo master? Dr. Facilier (David Keith) is angry at the neglect he receives from the rich and powerful and hatches an evil plan. Facilier tricks Naveen and his sidekick, Lawrence, into a terrible scheme that involves turning Naveen into a frog. Lawrence adopts the prince’s likeness and sets out to marry Charlotte with plans to split the money Unbeknownst to Naveen and Lawrence, Facilier has even shadier private plans of his own.
Can you believe in this version of the classic tale, Tiana is also turned into a frog due to some circumstances you have to see to believe. It isn’t long before Prince Naveen and Tiana are both frogs hopping across the bogs and swamps of New Orleans, along with a trumpet playing alligator Louis and the Cajun firefly Ray, looking for a cure for their perspective curses with Tiana’s dream of owning a restaurant hanging in the balance.
Each frame of The Princess and The Frog is filled with beautiful hand drawn animation and a gorgeous color palette. Of special note is a sequence for the song “Almost There” that transports the audience into a fantastic art deco poster: very stylish indeed. If you are a fan of classic Disney songs, then this film will not disappoint and you will enjoy the Cajun and jazz influenced soundtrack, courtesy of Randy Newman.
The voice work is all well done, in particular David Keith as the voodoo master and Anika Noni Rose as Tiana. John Goodman as Eli “Big Daddy” La Bouff also turns in a stand out voice performance.
So, this is right in line with traditional Disney fare: an old fashioned princess story. While it didn’t sway me from my loyalty to Pixar and Aardman, this was a nice trip down memory lane of classic Disney animated entertainment.
The Princess and The Frog is presented in a anamorphic 1080p AVC transfer. This is high definition lavishness with the most impressive level of detail and eye-popping color. The black levels are highly respectable and I did not notice an instance for grain or artifacts. This is a first rate transfer
The Princess and The Frog is presented in the original English language in DTS HD Master Audio. This is a wonderful sounding Blu Ray release. The dialogue is crystal clear and you can hear every bug buzzing and grass swaying in the bayou on this release.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The Princess and The Frog is presented in a blu ray amaray case with cheery Disney artwork on the cover.
Wow, there is a plethora of bonus material available. An audio commentary with writers and directors John Musker, Ron Clements and Peter Del Vecho is a entertaining listen.
Magic in the Bayou: The Making of a Princess is a look at the return to hand drawn animation and how the writers changed the story a bit for a new audience.
There are almost too many featurettes to list here, a great problem for any DVD collector to have. Here is a list A Return to the Animated Musical, The Princess and the Animator, Disney’s Newest Princess, The Disney Legacy, and The Return to Hand Drawn Animation.
Also available are Art Galleries for Character Design, Backgrounds, Layouts and Storyboards. Several Deleted Scenes, Live Action Reference Footage and a Music Video.
Rounding things out is an Interactive Game.
Also included is a bonus digital copy of the film for portable devices.
Fans of this film and of Disney animation in general will celebrate the wealth of bonus material available on this release
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 7/10
The Video 10/10
The Audio 10/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 10/10
Overall (not an average) 8/10